You cannot go home again.
This was made abundantly clear to me when Mike's brothers, Pete and Steve, started at SLU 8 years after I'd graduated (9 years after Mike had). Mike and I had this picture of how things were back when we were there--and since we still lived within easy biking distance from campus and could see what things looked like from the outside, at least, we just didn't notice how much everything had changed. I even had Sophia in speech and language therapy at SLU for 4 semesters and it seemed pretty much like how I'd left it. But it wasn't. Most all of the differences were in Housing.
Or Residence Life, as it's called now.
In town for my cousin's wedding in the fall of 1991, at College Church, no less, I took a tour of SLU. They showed me a girls' dorm in the Griesedieck Complex (just as Firmin Desloge can become Vermin Deathlodge, Griesedieck had its own nickname). The rest of the campus was fine, sure, whatever, but the dorm was lousy. I didn't like the tour guide. And the student volunteers who called later in my senior year weren't, well, like me. Then that spring break, I went on a college trip up to see a couple of different places (by then I already knew we couldn't afford Yale and U of Chicago, and so it came down to two: Cornell in Iowa and SLU). I didn't like Cornell. So I made my mom park down on the west end of campus and we took a tour all on our own. Back then, the tours ended at West Pine & Spring, which made sense because the only things west of there were the education department building and Marguerite Hall. Marguerite Hall had been badmouthed on the phone by the student volunteers. But something about it, about me, made me want to go check it out.
The desk worker called up to one of her floormates, Joel, who took us up to 3rd floor and showed us his room, his hall, how things worked. Yeah, the walls were cinderblock. Yeah, the rooms were just a little smaller than the dorms I'd seen thus far. But they were suites--you shared a bathroom with the room next door. I didn't see any Greek letters. And the floors were co-ed. "This is where I'm going to school and this is where I'm going to live," I told my mother on the trip home to Texas.
I became known as one of the only people in my freshman class who had actually chosen Marguerite Hall. Most freshmen, who obviously had no knowledge of game theory had put down Reinert Hall floors as their top 4 choices. If you picked Reinert Hall and you were a freshman, well, your clue meter was reading zero back then because Reinert was an old hotel--complete with air conditioning and private bathrooms. But the words "private bathrooms" meant that if you chose it...you invariably got stuck in Marguerite (the other dorms were single-sex by floor with communal bathrooms). Lots of unhappy people. But not me. I knew what I wanted. Fourth Floor Marguerite. And I got it.
My roommate, Stephanie, had not wanted it. Nobody did, really, although some people found that once they were there, that it was a good fit. Like Mike, who was one of the freshman advisors (called "VISAs") on my floor.
I lived in Marguerite for 3 years--the first two I was a resident, and the third year I took a CDA job, which was NewSpeak (or SLUSpeak) for RA. That was a bad decision, since I was and always have been sort of live-and-let-live while the folks whose floor I was assigned to, 5th, especially a group of uptight sophomores, really wanted me to be a law enforcement officer. It's not that I didn't bust a party or two, but I was not going to be first responder to any sort of conflict. Work it out on your own. This was not popular, and it made me unpopular with that crowd (although I was a non-entity to most of the freshmen, which was my goal--low interference). The next year, 5th floor got a CDA who was very, very, very excited to be there. Brought everything she'd learned from her "wonderful, tight-knit" floor in Walsh Hall. And folks would run into me in the cafeteria and admit that they didn't know how good they'd had it with me. Yeah. Dipshits.
But other than that, this was a good introduction into adulthood for me (actually, that was too, I just didn't realize it until much later). There were a lot of Spaniards in Marguerite, for whatever reason, who threw week-long parties. Lots of smoking. At one point, a non-student, essentially a derelict guy in his late teens, lived on my floor, moving from room to room as people checked him in under their IDs. When Tony "Tino" Constantino was kicked out of the dorm, he assembled all his liquor bottles at the end of the hall and used them for hockey target practice. It became known in some circles as the Opium Den because of all the drug use. But the general apathy--no one was stuck up about anything--was very nice. The day to day existence in Marguerite was easy.
And it's where I met my husband.
These days, all the rooms have matching furniture, or lofts made-to-plan (back then, you could pretty much do as you pleased). Every room has air conditioning, all across campus, and so Marguerite is a choice place to live, with the private bathrooms/suites. It contains a social justice residence program. And it's the home of upperclass honors program participants. The rooms have safety screens, so even if you can still take the windows out of their tracks, you can't hang your feet out the window while you lie on your bed. No smoking, so I can't imagine what the Spaniards do on Friday nights. Yeah, as a parent, I see some changes as Good Things. But I still wonder who I'd be now if it weren't for Marguerite back then.